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ArkonaSince the Rus demo back in 2002, these Russian pagan folk metal enthusiasts have grown from strength to strength.  Their sound on Yav is busy, intricate and full of heart-felt passion.  Completing the album is the truly stunning artwork that graces the cover.  A young female kneels down by some water and watches as the pure liquid runs through her fingers.  The reflection we see in the still water on the other hand reveals a skeleton looking back with blood flowing instead of water.  This may sound gruesome but within the context of this art, it is treated with subtlety and a soft dark overview.

If you spoke to someone who had heard this album, they would state categorically that Yav is not for the faint of heart.  This is brutal music in places; culturally reflective in others with hints of their native country, and progressive arrangements throughout.  As if to make their intentions known from the very beginning, you take a deep breath and you hit the epic audio journey which is the first song head on.  Yav features a track which is over nine minutes long called Zarozhdenie that opens the gates to the swirling horizons lurking within.

This isn’t the longest song though, as the title track sits at just under 14 minutes.  Going by the name of simply Jav this proves to be an exercise in what the band stands for; opening in atmospheric form with lead vocalist Masha “Scream” Arkhipova narrating words with conviction and menace, the song unravels taking the listener here, there and everywhere.

Despite the language being alien to most ears, the communication that settles in the belly of this beast is one of sincerity, angst, passion, virtuosity, collaboration and truth.  The music–as the commonly articulated cliché goes–travels beyond borders and makes the bridge of connection to those who take the time to digest and grow with Yav.  It is an album that gets better with each listen, sharing a longevity and understanding which acknowledges the patience of those hearing it.  Yav is a busy and industrious sound that embraces many different instruments, and is so much better and authentic for it.

If you wish to go near this album, then prepare for something dark, atmospheric and many other complexities entwined.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this listening experience is enhanced when heard in its entirety through earphones either.  Curiosity may lead you to translate some of the words as well, and interestingly ‘jav’ directly translates from Lithuanian into English as ‘U.S.’

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